Door Window Installation Explained

Windows in doors are popular in kitchen doors or doors leading to a backyard, however, door window installation is a process unfamiliar to most people. Window inserts can be found in many different styles and shapes. Glass inserts can be simple, clear glass or frosted for privacy.  Inserts can also be made of stained glass and even include window shades encased between two layers of glass, allowing for privacy without the need to be concerned about keeping shades clean.

When installing a door window, make sure you understand the installation instructions before you begin the project.

Materials Needed

•    Saw horses
•    Tape measure
•    Pencil
•    Circular saw (with appropriate blade for door material)
•    Jigsaw, reciprocating saw or hacksaw
•    Safety glasses
•    Screwdriver

Step 1 - Remove the Door

Begin by taking door off of its hinges. This makes it easier to work on the door as you measure and saw your opening for the new window insert.

Carefully set aside the screws from the door hinges and place them in a baggie to keep them all together in one place, then place the door flat on the saw horses (also, place a cloth over the saw horses to protect your door's finish).

Step 2 - Measure and Mark

Using your tape measure, carefully measure the door find the exact center of the door. To do this, measure the length of each side, halve that measurement and place a small mark there.  Repeat this measurement process with the door window insert.

Align the center of the door window with the center of the door.

Trace a line around the door window insert frame, then trace another line ½ inch outside the line you just traced for the door window insert frame — you should now have a shape (square, rectangle, circle) within a shape.

Step 3 - Cut the Hole for the Window

Using your circular saw, cut along the lines of your door window insert that you just drew. If your shape is a square or a rectangle, do not cut all the way to the corners, but finish off with your jigsaw, reciprocating saw or hacksaw. If your shape is a circle, be extremely careful to follow your line, because if the ends do not meet up, your opening will be lopsided and your window insert will not fit correctly.  

Discard the cut-out door section.

Step 4 - Window Installation

With the help of a friend, reattach the door to the hinges. Close the door.

Now have your helper place the outside of the window insert against the outside of the door while you place the inside window insert against the inside of the door, aligning the screws.

Make sure that your door window is centered and plumb, and secure all of the screws to completely attach the door window to the door.


Door window installation is an easy project for almost any homeowner with the right equipment and a little patience. Make sure that you measure carefully to ensure you are cutting the window insert size correctly. With a little help from a friend, installing your door window is a simple and easy project that can be completed in just one afternoon.